Another week of isolation passes and the sense of wasted time settles over you. Is it June already?! How is it possible that the last two months have felt like the longest and shortest amount of time ever? What have I even been doing?
Perhaps these thoughts have been running through your head too. It can be easy to get pulled down into the idea that you’ve accomplished nothing during quarantine. The other day on a Zoom meeting for our church community group I caught myself saying that I was “tired of doing nothing.” It was partially a joke and partially an expression of frustration. In my last post, I talked about focusing on consistency instead of pace in the production of your creative work. Let me tell you, it’s easy to write about, harder to put into action.
It’s hard to see how small bits of consistent work on a project add up when you’re in the midst of it. You can’t see the forest through the trees. When you’re writing your two sentences a day, all you see are those two sentences. All you see is that tiny sapling that somehow managed to sprout from a fallen pine cone and is liable to be crushed by a misguided hiker going off the trail. Did I take that metaphor too far? Stay with me, folks. The point is this: two sentences doesn’t seem like enough. When someone asks how the writing is going and you’ve only written two sentences that day, your answer will probably be “not good.”
However, two sentences add up. In a week you’ll have fourteen sentences. In a month you’ll have sixty sentences.
It’s important to pause and look at how much work you’ve actually done during quarantine. Sit down and take stock of what has actually been done on your creative project. Look especially for the invisible work you’ve been doing. Have you mulled over a difficult plot point for a few weeks? Have you researched places to submit your manuscript? Have you read? Have you nurtured your creativity? These little tasks might not show up as words on the page, but I assure you they do contribute to the project. They don’t replace writing, but they certainly aren’t a waste of time. If you really look carefully at your days, I bet you’ve done more than you think. Climb up to the look-out and see the whole forest. Be encouraged by all those little bursts of productivity adding up.
But what if I really haven’t done anything?
That’s okay too. You can start now. Don’t let guilt stop you from getting started. (For more on not writing during quarantine, see my last post.)
Writing this blog post is intended to be an encouragement to you, but also for me. I need to be reminded of this often, especially as I go into more passive stages of my writing (i.e. waiting for readers to get back to me with critique). I hope that this post prompts you to take a moment for reflection and return to your writing with new vigour.